Dec 18, 2019

Why Data is a Pain Point for B2B Customer Experience

A recent Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) report revealed that one of the biggest obstacles B2B marketers face when delivering more personalized, omnichannel experiences to their customers stems from the inability to adequately leverage data.

Strategic and thoughtful data governance, which incorporates the availability, usage, security and integrity of enterprise data, is critical to delivering a seamless experience to customers across all platforms and channels. Collecting data isn’t enough. In today’s data-heavy environment, companies need a way to leverage the data they already have.

In fact, the D&B study found that more than 30 percent of respondents felt their organizations are finding it difficult to leverage the data they already have with their existing tools.

In this post, we’ll unpack some of the key findings of the D&B report and review why data presents a problem for so many organizations.

The CX revolution

Customer experience (CX) is big business, with the customer experience management (CEM) market expected to reach over $32 billion by 2025. Growth of CEM is fueled by consumers’ rising expectations for seamless connections with the businesses they interact with both personally and professionally. B2B marketers across all industries and markets understand that good CX is an important — even critical —investment for growth and success.

Consumers who have grown accustomed to personalized, omnichannel experiences in the B2C space are bringing their expectations with them to work. Salesforce reports that 80 percent of B2B buyers want B2C-level experiences and more than half are willing to switch vendors if the CX does not measure up to their expectations.

Delivering superior CX relies heavily on the ability of companies to adequately collect and measure their customer data across all touchpoints, particularly because the B2B buying cycle is a complex one. It can take up to three months (or longer) for B2B buyers to make a purchase decision.

Adding to this complexity is the fact that most organizations have B2B buying groups or committees with as many as six people (or more) involved in the buying process. Buyers get information from a variety of sources including social media, company websites, vendor-focused content (e.g., webinars, data sheets, etc.), peers and search engines.

The inability to leverage data is a big hurdle

Having access to data isn’t the biggest problem when it comes to delivering a superior customer experience. Rather, 33 percent of respondents in the D&B study indicated that they were unable to fully leverage the data available to them. Most of the hurdles listed by respondents focused on various aspects of this same issue — that is, the roadblocks in place that prevent their organization from adequately leveraging data.

These include the inability to accurately identify all customer touchpoints, lack of insight into the customer journey, lack of a cohesive marketing data strategy and lack of available data sources.

Source: dun & bradstreet/ADWEEK

Collecting, aggregating, analyzing and processing data are key to delivering a seamless experience in the age of the digitally savvy B2B buyer.

Only 7 percent of respondents rated their company’s ability to leverage data as “well above the competition,” while a whopping 25 percent indicated they fell “well below” the competition. The missing ingredient? A cohesive data management strategy.

Data governance — making sense of it all

One of the main conclusions in the D&B study is not that companies are struggling to make sense of the deluge of data they collect from a variety of sources. The data is there, but it’s difficult to manage, access and analyze.

A growing number of organizations understand the need for a solution that can help them reign in their data and provide a more seamless customer experience. More than 80 percent of respondents in the D&B survey plan to place more (or significantly more) focus on data and analytics in 2020. Key obstacles listed by respondents include:

  • Siloed or inaccessible data (27 percent)
  • Incomplete customer data (27 percent)
  • Lack of data expertise (26 percent)
  • Lack of marketing/sales platform integration (24 percent)
  • Lack of internal data sources (23 percent)

Leveraging data requires companies to invest in new technologies such as a customer data platform (CDP) and a data management platform (DMP), which can aggregate data from offline and online sources and make it accessible to everyone within an organization.

CDP and DMP technologies enable B2B companies to more easily measure and analyze data, often with the use of AI and machine learning, better understand their customers and how they behave regardless of what device or platform they’re using, and comply with changing data regulations such as the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).

Account-based marketing (ABM) offers a solution to the data dilemma

Focusing on accounts, rather than selling to individual people within one organization or company, has been proven to deliver superior results in the B2B space.

ABM is as much a philosophy as it is a tactic. More than 40 percent of respondents in the D&B survey indicated they already incorporate ABM strategies into their sales and marketing strategies. Still, that leaves nearly 60 percent of companies with no ABM strategy in place. This is a huge missed opportunity.

For an ABM approach to work, companies need to have a clear data management strategy. The D&B report lists some next steps for achieving this. At the top of the list? Create a solid data foundation.

Tapping into the data that you already have is a critical first step to creating a more cohesive customer experience across all touchpoints. Unifying data and making it easy to access throughout your organization — no matter the size — will give you a 360-degree view of your customers and prospects, enabling you to craft content, marketing materials and outreach strategies that are more seamless and effective.

B2B buyers are increasingly researching vendors and suppliers on their own prior to setting up sales calls or demos. Understanding where they are in their buying journey and how they’re accessing information — both online and offline — will help companies provide the right content to the right people at the right time, a surefire way to achieving good customer experience.

Related Articles:

4 Ways Marketers Can Leverage Big Data

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